Wiggins went into London 2012 off the back of a historic Tour de France triumph - the first Brit to ever win it - and surpassed that by taking Olympic gold in the time trial in his home city for what he described as the "defining moment" in an incredible sporting career.
But in an exclusive interview as part of Eurosport's Return to London 2012 series, he reveals the sacrifices he had to make and the trials and tribulations he faced on his journey to winning the most prestigious individual prize in sport.
You can see the full interview on Eurosport 2 on Monday at 2pm.
'YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP YOUR HAPPINESS'
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"The hotel was right on the start/finish area, so there were hoards of people outside so I just put my headphones on and hood up.
"I had to walk about 500m to the warm-up zone so I tried to get there without being recognised. I walked past this little café and I saw my mum outside, and my kids were inside the café, and they came running out and I couldn’t, I didn’t want to see or look at them because I would have started crying I think. I thought 'they are going to be there in an hours time', but it was the cruellest act to not say hello to them, but I had to stay so focused and not let any emotion come in at any point.
That’s the cruelty of elite sport, you have to give up your happiness to be so good at something, to ignore your kids when they’re that young, not knowing why dad didn’t say hello, that’s quite hard to look back at. Most elite sports people can resonate with that.
'I WAS FLOATING'
#Returnto2012 - Highlights as Wiggins takes time trial gold in London
"I went out and I was just floating, I felt so good. The first 5-10 minutes, I was probably going harder than I needed to but I just felt so good and comfortable.
"We went through the first time check, I think it was after about 5km, and Tony Martin was my reference, he’d be the closest, and I was five seconds down on him, and the minute I found out I was five seconds down on him, I knew I’d won the race, because he’d gone out too hard and he wouldn’t be able to sustain it.
"So that gave me a lot of confidence, which is funny, being down at a time check, but I knew I had got him at that point.
"The next one I was fifteen seconds ahead of him. The first time I was aware of the crowds was coming over Kingston Bridge, and there was a pub there and the crowd made the road so narrow and the noise gave me goosebumps.
"With 5km, I was 29 seconds up on Tony Martin and I thought ‘you’ve got this, this is in the bag’, but because I took my mind off the ball because of the crowds, I realised how much it started to hurt.
"Then I started panicking and started going harder because the insecurity has come back and my normal self had returned, the elite athlete had gone."
Wiggins' victory lap after winning the men's cycling individual time trial
Image credit: Reuters
"When I finished, the realisation that it was the end of everything we set out for, because it was part of the Tour de France for me, the Tour was still going on for us.
"I’d won everything that year, so that was the end of what I had been training for, I never knew what was going to happen next after that, my whole life had been mapped out to that point. I knew it wasn’t going to get any better, I knew I would do other things but to do that in London, that was so special.
"I was just trying to soak everything in at that moment, and then it hit me what the Tour de France meant to people in this country now we were finally out of that bubble. Life was never the same from that day onwards for me, to a point at times where I wished it never happened, maybe. I am happy sitting here today so I am glad it did happen, but it was huge really.
"With that generation, with Lizzie, Victoria on the track, Chris Hoy, Cavendish as world champion, Froome, that’s what really started the boom in cycling, and it went mental after that really, for everyone."
'I FELT SORRY FOR MYSELF AFTERWARDS'
Wiggins celebrates on the podium during the victory ceremony for the men's cycling individual time trial at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hampton Court Palace
Image credit: Reuters
"I look back and I know I am not that person anymore; I know who he was and I feel sorry for him.
"That was me and my insecure, introvert-ness sat on a throne with a bank of photographers in front of me not knowing what to do, so I just did that, I did that from school days, performed. I can’t really look at pictures of that now.
"As focused and amazing as he was on a bike, that athlete, off the bike there was this insecurity and I didn’t know how to react socially.
I realise why I was like that now, growing up, having everything done for you, not really having much of a childhood, that’s why I was like that. People think it’s just you being cool, but it was actually done in that introvert-ness and that shyness.
You can watch Return to London 2012 from May 24-31 on Eurosport 2. The Opening Ceremony is live on Sunday at 4pm, and from Monday to Saturday next week we will have daily shows involving some of the biggest names from the Games.
Sunday 24th May (4pm) will see Eurosport 2 screen the widely acclaimed Opening Ceremony from the Olympic Stadium.
Monday 25th May (2pm and 4pm) will focus on cycling with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Lizzie Deignan discussing road cycling before six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and Jo Rowsell review the unprecedented Team GB successes in the velodrome.
Tuesday 26th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see Tom Daley join the team to review his medal-winning performance in diving whilst Adam Peaty – ear-marked as a future prospect back in 2012 - and double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington will reflect on the big stories of the Games from the pool.
Wednesday 27th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will feature gymnasts Max Whitlock, Beth Tweddle and Kristian Thomas looking back on a Games that saw Team GB secure four medals for the first time in a single Olympics and kick-start a golden era for the sport in the UK.
Thursday 28th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see rower Helen Glover, winner of the first Team GB gold of the Games, as well as five-time Olympic medallist Kath Grainger and Men’s Eight medallist Greg Searle, discussing the memorable moments from Eton Dorney.
Friday 29th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) focuses on combat sports with boxing star Anthony Agogo discussing his and Team GB’s impressive performances in the ring, whilst medal-winning pair Jade Jones and Gemma Gibbons reflect on their taekwondo and judo successes respectively.
Saturday 30th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will give viewers the chance to relive the iconic night of the games – known ever since as Super Saturday. On a memorable night at the Olympic Stadium, Team GB secured three gold medals with Greg Rutherford, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah all topping the podium. Greg and Mo will look back on the historic evening and discuss some of the other seminal moments. Seb Coe and Tony Minichiello also join the chat.
Sunday 31st May (midnight) will see the week come to a close with Boyle’s equally impressive Closing Ceremony to book-end a celebratory period in the country’s sporting history.